Demonstrator removal webinar Q&A
On 4th July, Alun Morgan and David Asker presented a National Eviction Team webinar on the removal of protesters and demonstrators. Here are the answers to the questions raised.
If you are enforcing a CPO, do you need any other court order to take action?
No, but if you want an HCEO to enforce the CPO, we will need a warrant from that section’s authority commanding me to enforce the CPO.
What is your response to a squatter who says he has a fundamental human right to housing, with freedom from forced eviction and that you’re breaching his human rights by evicting him?
We would enter into a dialogue with the person, because you should never dismiss a comment. Our position would be along the lines of: “The land owner also has the right to peaceful enjoyment of their land. We have entered into negotiation before we asked you to leave. You’ve been told why you’ve been asked to leave and should you not leave, then we will take action. You have 15 minutes to pick up your stuff and leave. If you sit down, you’ll be carried out.”
If the squatter was locked-on, we would ask them to release, otherwise they would be removed by a specialist team, as well as be liable to arrest for obstruction of a court officer.
What is the most challenging situation you’ve ever faced?
The most challenging situation I ever faced, was on the Dale Farm travelers’ site. It was an old vehicle where three protesters had locked themselves on, with a very complex lock on the back axle of the van, two people on either end, and one at the back end, which meant we couldn’t pull them out or extract them.
The tubing their arms were in was binding them so that they couldn’t release themselves. That was filled with concrete, which was wrapped around with tyres under a trolley. We had to strap the van since we couldn’t move it. We had to lift the van and drag the people in unison and chip away at the debris to cut them out.
Would you get social services involved before the eviction if you knew there were children present?
If you’re going to do an eviction and you think it likely there will be children, (or even if you don’t know in advance and then find there are children present), you let the local authority’s social services know and they’ll give you a number to call if they need to attend. The police are excellent in communication like this.